Apparently the new series “Trauma” (8 p.m., NBC) comes from the minds that brought us “The West Wing” and “Friday Night Lights.”
Unfortunately, the talents behind those superior shows must have wanted a change of pace because realism, credible dialogue and wit are nowhere to be found in this fast-paced, violent drama.
One expects a series named “Trauma,” set in the world of high-risk paramedics, to have its share of adrenaline, blood and gore, but this pilot piles on the ultraviolence to an almost laughable degree. At least it distracts us from its cardboard-cutout characters.
Viewers who stopped watching “ER” after the gratuitous violence of Dr. Romano’s helicopter accident won’t make it through the credits. The show kicks off with a shock quickly followed by a calamitous crash.
A year later, the survivors of San Francisco’s most deadly EMT-related accident face a grim anniversary and have a very bad day on the job. They include Reuben “Rabbit” Palchuk (Cliff Curtis), a cowboy helicopter pilot who might seem over-the-top in a “Con Air” parody. Gorgeous, tortured Nancy (Anastasia Griffith) can’t get over the sad milestone and is prone to reckless acts like having sex in ambulances. Glum Cameron (Derek Luke) just can’t bring his work home with him. So he hits on everything in skirts. OK, they have to have a pulse.
For a show filled with gory moments, few of them occur entirely by accident. Like a stomach-turning movie from a high school drivers-education class, “Trauma” teaches us never to play with high voltage equipment while listening to loud music, or to drive like a maniac while texting or to try to re-create scenes from “Bullitt” on the streets of San Francisco.
“Trauma” also represents another bit of collateral damage from NBC’s Jay Leno experiment. A show this violent and with enough frisky, randy and impulsive characters to rate a rare network TV-MA rating cries out for a 9 p.m. airing. That’s also the time when shows like “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” debuted. But “Trauma” is probably too violent and too dumb to succeed at any hour.
Tonight’s season premiere
A suspect with multiple personalities (Erika Christensen) may be a killer or a witness to the crime on the season-two premiere of “Lie to Me” (8 p.m., Fox).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Hidden cameras reveal awkward moments on “Disaster Date” (5 p.m., MTV), followed by the animated comedy “Popzilla” (5:30 p.m.).
• A new hero arrives on “Heroes” (7 p.m., NBC). As if there weren’t enough already.
• A patient posts his ailments online on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Dallas hosts Carolina on “Monday Night Football” (7 p.m., ESPN).
• Bishop returns on “Lincoln Heights” (7 p.m., Family).
• President Theodore Roosevelt champions the cause on “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings), part 2 of 6.
• A man turns his front yard into a scrap-metal heap on the season finale of “Hoarders” (9 p.m., A&E).
A blind woman (Mia Farrow) must contend with the psychopath who murdered her family in the 1971 shocker “See No Evil” (10:45 p.m., TCM).
Ted’s not-so-blind date on “How I Met Your Mother” (7 p.m., CBS) … The competition goes co-ed on “Dancing with the Stars” (7 p.m., ABC) … Haley has doubts on “One Tree Hill” (7 p.m., CW).